The week before last, WynnumCentral did a walk around the shopping precinct – specifically Edith Street, Florence Street and Bay Terrace – and counted the total number of retail units (those with street frontage, plus the units inside the Wynnum Shopping Centre) standing empty, and the results make for some grim reading. Overall one in every five shop premises is empty.
The exact breakdown is set out below, however in summary Bay Terrace is particularly affected, with a number of large units there that have been empty for some time.
The Wynnum Shopping Centre (where the IGA used to be and referred to in the table below as ‘IGA Centre’) also has a very high vacancy rate, with seven of the ten retail units inside the centre currently empty (excluding those on the outside, which are counted in the individual street figures). As we reported previously, this may change as the centre has recently changed hands and the new owners are planning to relaunch the centre with new tenants in place soon.
|Location||#Retail Units||#Empty||Vacancy %|
|Edith St (North)||32||3||9.38|
|Edith St (South)||31||3||9.68|
|Bay Terr (West)||23||5||21.74|
|Bay Terr (East)||28||5||17.86|
The In Business column in the Wynnum Herald* a few weeks ago covered this – in case you missed it, here’s what it said…
On wynnumcentral.com.au we regularly report on ‘moves in the street’, and there have been quite a few of these lately. Unfortunately most of these moves have been out not in – the bank closures, ANZ and Suncorp, then more recently the FSG cafe and offices and the River City Sewing Machine Centre, which has moved to larger premises in Tingalpa.
This sort of ’emptying out’ presents a real problem for any retail precinct. Statistics from the US show that when a retail centre’s vacancy rate drops below 10%, its foot traffic can drop by 90%.
There is, however, a solution that has worked in many other retail precincts around Australia. It started in Newcastle when the Hunter Street retail precinct effectively became a ghost town after the closure of BHP. The program – called ‘Renew Newcastle’ – involved allowing creative projects to take up short term retail space, and was so successful that within a year or two the precinct was revitalised and Newcastle even made it into the Australian Lonely Planet travel guide as a result. The same program has been implemented successfully in Sydney, Parramatta, Melbourne and Adelaide. Wynnum next?
A few years ago the then Chamber of Commerce (now closed) and the WynnumCentral project launched a Renew Newcastle-based scheme in Wynnum – called Wynnum Creative Spaces – with the backing of Councillor Peter Cumming, however it did not gain traction and some of the landlords who had expressed interest in being involved at the time were able to let their premises to new tenants.
At that time Wynnum Central was also experiencing a mini resurgence that coincided with some activation projects (for example the Edith Street markets and the Illuminations Festival), which may have masked the overall trend.
The reasons behind the decline in retail in Wynnum are being felt across retail in general – in the Brisbane area for example both Fortitude Valley and Mt Gravatt Central are experiencing similar issues.
The causes are various and complex. The big question is whether there is enough willingness on the part of all of the stakeholders – the shop owners/landlords, existing and prospective tenants and local residents and government – to address the issue.
Do residents and businesses want to see a flourishing central area in Wynnum? What would that look like? Although some would like to see Wynnum Central return to the busy shopping hub it was 30+ years ago, the answer – we believe – is not going back to the past, but finding a new path where the mix of retailers and retail opening hours suit what people want and expect in 2018 and beyond.
What are your thoughts? What change/s would you like to see in Wynnum Central? Let us know here in the comments and on the WynnumCentral Facebook page.
*which is written by the WynnumCentral/Wynnum Business team